Wednesday, April 28, 2010




The much publicized seminar on “Islam and Non-violence” organized by the Forum for promotion of Moderate Thought in Islam in Chennai on Monday, 26th April 2010 was successful and well attended. All the speakers listed in the programme The Prince of Arcot Mr. Mohammed Abdul Ali, Mr. Asghar Ali Engineer, Mr. Moosa Raza, SIET Chairman, Mr. Andrew T. Simkin, Consul General of the United States of America, Mr. R. Nataraj, I.P.S., Director General of Police, Mr. Shakeel Akhtar, I.P.S, Additional Commissioner of Police attended and delivered their speeches on the occasion.

The seminar began with the recitation of the verses of the holy Quran. Mr. N. Roohullah, Treasurer of the Forum recited the verse 13 of Surah Al-Hujurat and gave its meaning

“( O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)” (Translation by Yusuf Ali )

and delivered a speech in English stressing the need to understand the divine notion that the entire human community is one although it is of different languages, cultures, colours, communities and countries and nobody can be superior in the sight of Allah on the basis of anything except piety. In other words one should build his character on the right path shown by God. His emphasis was on the fact that Islam stands for equality, fraternity, peace and prosperity of the human race as a whole and there is no room for non-violence. His speech was gentle and meaningful and appreciated by the audience.

The Secretary General of the Forum Mr. A. Faizur Rahman, a critical analyst as he is well known, during his speech touched the controversial issue of the right of a husband to beat his wife and said referring to the Verse 34 of Surah Al-Nisa 4 of the holy Quran said that the word “zaraba” used here does not mean “to strike” but used in the meaning of “to explain by giving an example”. His tone and tenor and criticism of the translators who were great Islamic scholars was not liked by the audience in general.

I quote the ayat here for the ready reference of readers:

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has made one of them excel over the other, and because they spend out of their possessions (to support them). Thus righteous women are obedient and guard the rights of men in their absence under Allah’s protection. As for women of whom you fear rebellion, admonish them, and remain apart from them in beds, and beat them. Then if they obey you, do not seek ways to harm them. Allah is the Exalted, the Great.” (Maulana Abul Ala Maududi – English translation by Zafer Ishaq Ansari)

NOTE of the translator :

This does not mean that a man should resort to this three measures all at once, but that they may be employed if a wife adopts an attitude of obstinate defiance. So far as the actual application of these measures is concerned, there should naturally be some correspondence between the fault and the punishment that is administered. Moreover, it is obvious that wherever a light measure can prove effective one should not resort to stern measures. Whenever the Prophet permitted a man to administer corporal punishment to his wife, he did so with great reluctance, and continued to express his utter distaste for it.

Mr. Faizur Rahman had also written an article about it earlier in which he says as follows:

The New York Times on March 22, 2007 reported that a German Judge turned down citing the Quran, a Muslim wife's request for a fast-track divorce on the ground that her husband beat her from the beginning of their marriage. The Judge justified her ruling by saying that the couple came from a Moroccan cultural milieu in which it is common for husbands to beat their wives because the Quran sanctions such physical abuse.

The Judge was obviously quoting one of the most mistranslated verses of the Quran (4:34) which supposedly allows wife beating. The mistranslated word is wazribuhunna which is derived from the root zaraba. Major commentators of the Quran including Ibn Kasir, Pickthall, and Maulana Maududi, the founder of Jamat-e-Islami, have rendered this word as "beat them" ignoring the fact that the word zaraba has various other shades of meaning. Out of the 50 times it occurs in the Quran, 31 times it has been used in the meaning of "to explain by giving an example." Only 10 times it has used to mean "to strike" but mostly in the context of Moses "striking the rock" or the sea, and angels "striking the faces" of the sinners.

Even if there has been a judgement like this actually, it only shows the ignorance or mischief of the judge in giving a verdict on a divorce case quoting a sentence about the beating of the erring wife by the husband. Unless we read the version of the judgement in detail, we cannot comment on it.

It is also written in many Islamic books that beating of the erring wife as a last resort after many persuasions as mentioned in the note above was permissible only by ‘miswak” ( a tooth brush). This is not an issue at all. The Secretary should not have touched this issue in the conference where dignified speakers, press persons and knowledgeable Muslims and non-Muslims were present.

The Prince of Arcot Mr. Mohammed Abdul Ali made a powerful speech saying that his ancestors the carnatic rulers were highly secular, gave importance to the welfare of the subject and donated lands to temples, churches etc. without any discrimination on religious grounds. He gave so many examples of the camaraderie prevailed and prevailing between his family and other religious heads belonging to other communities. People listened to him with all attention and interest. However he could not help saying that he was disappointed with the Forum. He expressed his apprehensions about the Quran being misinterpreted by such attempts. He questioned the Secretary about his intentions in naming the forum as the “Forum for promotion of Moderate Thought in Islam” and said that “ not even a comma can be changed in the holy Quran. I am warning you, don’t tamper with the Quran. This is a sensitive issue. You will only end up in creating trouble”.

It seems that the Prince of Arcot who is a well wisher of Mr. Faizur Rahman took liberty to advise him as above.

The Secretary said in his defence that “the Quran is moderate. We are not deviating from it. We are only targeting extremist thought”.

Mr. Moosa Raza said that Islam rejected all forms of extremism and felt that the best response of the Muslims threatened by the influential and powerful Western culture should be to adopt the good values of the West, educate themselves and learn the present advances in science and technology in which Muslims were once at the zenith. He quoted the history of Muslim achievements in Spain and other countries in detail.

He felt that insecurity was the cause for troubles and said that the government of India was sympathetic to them. He appealed to the Muslims to make full use of the funds allocated by the government to the Ministry of Minority Affairs for their upliftment. He stated that the Ministry had spent only 3.50 per cent of an annual allocation of Rs.1850 crore.

As regards to the comments of the Prince of Arcot, he also felt that the name of the Forum could be changed as “Forum for Promotion of Moderate Thought among Muslims”

Mr. Natarajan and Mr. Shakeel Ahmed also spoke about the contribution of Islam and Muslims in bringing unity and fraternity among the people.

Mr. Asghar Ali Engineer spoke excellently in his characteristic cool and calm manner explaining many things including the importance of belief, good deeds and patience which are manifest in the following Surah Al-Asr. and answered questions from the audience

1. By the declining day

2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss

3. Save those who believe and do good works and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.

Even to a question of a youngster who faced some problem at an airport abroad just because his name started with “Shaikh”, Mr. Engineer said that we should understand the situation and tackle it with patience and wisdom. He also answered many other questions from the audience.

The English daily The Hindu which always gives importance to values reported the proceedings of the conference in a positive manner under heading “Peace, tolerance central to Islam” whereas another English daily The Times of India highlighted the slight verbal spat in a sensational manner under the title “Forum sparks heated debate on moderate side of Islam.”

There is no doubt that the seminar was highly successful despite the slight verbal spat.

Note: Just now I have received a message from Mr. A. Faizur Rahman that the name of the Forum has been changed as “Forum for the Promotion of Moderate Thought among Muslims”. This has been done in accordance with the demand made by H.H. the Prince of Arcot. Mr. Mohammed Abdul Ali.


  1. Thank God, I was not there.
    Mr Faizurrahman is not a Islamic scholar. He should know his limitations.

  2. Assalamu Alaikum,

    Thank you Khaleel Bhai for the reporting of the recent seminar.

    In my opinion I think the seminar has not discussed on the real subject of 'Islam and Non-violence' in broader perspective and distracted from the focal point to individual relationship of husband and wife.

    Well, the coverage of your reporting is good. Please do keep sending me your coverage as and when you do on religious, social and other issues.

    With warm regards,

    K. Asadullah Basha.